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Title: External Memory’s Effect on Decision-Making: An Attempt to Understand Technology’s Impact on our Psychology
Authors: Skov, Natasha
Advisors: Coman, Alin I
Department: Psychology
Certificate Program: Applications of Computing Program
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: There are large amounts of research on how technology and the internet affect memory and cognition. This study differentiates itself from other research in that it explores the effect of technological external memory devices on decision-making, an area in which there is no existing literature. Specifically, this paper predicts that a decision based on externally stored information will be quicker and yield poorer results. To test this, participants made decisions about where to travel based on a list of items they read either in a temporary snapchat (i.e. information unavailable in the future) or a text message (i.e. information available in the future). The content of these lists varied by the proportion of items relevant to either rural or urban travel. Participants studied these lists for 15 seconds and were subsequently tested on the content of the lists. Results failed to find evidence to support the original hypothesis that the technology medium would impact memory, and in turn, decision-making. The findings from these tests may be a result of other variables not being taken into account during the study, or the fact that this study found a boundary condition of existing literature. Future research should aim to expand the literature studying the nuances of technology’s effect on memory and improve upon this study by conducting more intensive pretesting and using a more representative sample of participants.  
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2020

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